Back to blog

Ongoing Feedback Definition: What Makes It Truly "Ongoing"?

Business people communicating. Ongoing feedback concept.

As more and more busi­ness­es recog­nise the inef­fec­tive­ness of annu­al appraisals, ongo­ing feed­back has become more and more pop­u­lar — but not every­one agrees on what it means…

Ongo­ing feedback’s def­i­n­i­tion varies accord­ing to the busi­ness imple­ment­ing it. For some busi­ness­es, mov­ing from an annu­al or bi-annu­al appraisal to say quar­ter­ly reviews counts as ongo­ing feed­back. How­ev­er, giv­ing feed­back once a quar­ter shouldn’t real­ly be con­sid­ered ongoing.

Even reduc­ing the gap to every month isn’t true ongo­ing feed­back. Rather, ongo­ing means ongo­ing. It’s con­tin­u­ous rather than peri­od­ic. It’s more than a per­for­mance man­age­ment trend; it’s a smarter, bet­ter, eas­i­er way of doing things that dri­ve employ­ee engage­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. This approach might sound intim­i­dat­ing at first, for both employ­ees and man­agers, but it can be achieved if you adopt a sim­ple approach and the right software.

What is ongo­ing feed­back? The real ongo­ing feed­back definition…

Ongo­ing feed­back means hav­ing an open door pol­i­cy to dia­logue between man­agers and employ­ees with regards to employ­ee goals, suc­cess­es and areas for improve­ment. There are no rat­ing sys­tems or lengthy appraisal forms. Instead, man­agers and employ­ees com­mu­ni­cate regularly.

For best results, feed­back should be giv­en in real-time as events occur and then reflect­ed on dur­ing a month­ly check-in.

Does ongo­ing feed­back work?

Ongo­ing feedback’s def­i­n­i­tion might sound a lit­tle too good to be true. After all, too much free­dom can wind up look­ing like chaos. Yet, with the right imple­men­ta­tion, ongo­ing feed­back does work, and Adobe’s suc­cess shows this. It was the first big com­pa­ny to ditch annu­al appraisals and rank­ing sys­tems and intro­duce ongo­ing feed­back back instead and saw its shares shoot up by 65% as a direct result of the deci­sion.

Aware­ness of annu­al appraisals’ inef­fec­tive­ness goes as far back as 1965. Since then, opin­ions haven’t real­ly changed. Accord­ing to one recent sur­vey in San Fran­cis­co, as many as 98% of staff said they believed annu­al appraisals were unnec­es­sary — and a quar­ter of those polled were HR professionals.

Annu­al appraisals are not fre­quent enough, are too rigid, and cre­ate rank­ing sys­tems which don’t help employ­ees. First­ly, this is because a rank­ing doesn’t tell you any­thing with regards to improve­ment or pro­gres­sion, but also because a rank­ing is extreme­ly sub­jec­tive. One HR expert quips how, in a com­pa­ny she worked for, 96% of staff were giv­en the high­est pos­si­ble rat­ing after an annu­al appraisal.

The evi­dence is over­whelm­ing. Annu­al appraisals don’t work. And yet…

Our Software Makes Ongoing Feedback A Breeze

Why don’t more busi­ness­es adopt ongo­ing feedback?

Adobe made its move way back in 2012. Yet, even with all of the evi­dence and stud­ies against the effec­tive­ness of annu­al appraisals, a sur­vey per­formed back in 2017 revealed that 65% of busi­ness­es are still using annu­al reviews. The rea­sons for busi­ness­es’ ret­i­cence are legit­i­mate, but these con­cerns can be addressed with the right approach.

One of the biggest fears has been that busi­ness lead­ers would find it hard­er to keep track of what’s going on in their com­pa­nies with­out annu­al appraisals. This con­cern is fair, but it’s also down to a mis­un­der­stand­ing of how ongo­ing feed­back should work. Ongo­ing doesn’t mean unstruc­tured and unrecord­ed. With the right per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware, busi­ness­es and man­agers can eas­i­ly keep track of the ongo­ing feed­back employ­ees are receiv­ing and they can still extract point-in-time per­for­mance data to inform deci­sions around pay and promotions.

This brings us to anoth­er com­mon con­cern which is that aban­don­ing annu­al appraisals means mak­ing big changes to the bonus or pay sys­tem attached to them. How­ev­er, it is still pos­si­ble to man­age pay and bonus deci­sions effec­tive­ly under a con­tin­u­ous feed­back approach. This eBook explains how to do it.

For many busy HR pro­fes­sion­als, even though they know their cur­rent per­for­mance man­age­ment approach is not work­ing, the thought of try­ing to embed a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous feed­back can be put in the too hard’ cat­e­go­ry. Yet we have helped numer­ous organ­i­sa­tions of all sizes suc­cess­ful­ly tran­si­tion to an ongo­ing feed­back approach and we’ve found that the change is con­sis­tent­ly wel­comed by staff and managers.

For a real-life case study of how to make the change, check out this webi­nar on how Clydes­dale & York­shire Bank­ing Group ditched their annu­al appraisals in favour of ongo­ing feed­back and reg­u­lar check-ins. In just the first 6 months of their new approach, 78,000 pieces of feed­back were giv­en and 15,000 future-focused check-in con­ver­sa­tions took place.

To find the right tools to imple­ment ongo­ing feed­back in your busi­ness, con­tact Clear Review today for FREE demo of our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware.